Tomorrow afternoon, Gov. Larry Hogan will sit down with other Chesapeake Bay region governors and environmental officials to discuss how to protect the bay moving forward. Right outside, Maryland leaders and environmentalists are planning to rally to demand that Hogan push back against the president’s agenda that could harm the endangered estuary.
Activists have decried Hogan’s silence on the Trump administration’s proposal to zero the budget for the longstanding Chesapeake Bay Program, a state-federal collaboration crafted decades ago to revive the ailing waterway. A draft fiscal 2018 budget from Trump’s office released last month included no funding for the program.
Hogan has also been mostly mum on the president’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, a 195-nation pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Leaders from around Baltimore, including the mayor, the president of Johns Hopkins University and the CEO of Under Armour, have denounced the move and reassured the public that they still view climate change as a very real threat.
Leaders from around the state have criticized Hogan for not yet agreeing to have Maryland join the Climate Alliance, comprised of states pledging to uphold the Paris agreement’s terms. Southerly neighbor Virginia is among the states that have signed on.
A spokesperson from Hogan’s office did tell the Sun, “This is not an action the governor would have taken.”
In a statement today, spokeswoman Hannah Marr added that Hogan in 2016 signed the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act into law, which targets a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and said that Maryland already belongs to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and participates in the northeastern- and mid-Atlantic-focused Transportation Climate Initiative.
Asked about his reaction to the proposed bay program cuts, Marr sent links to stories by the Sun and The Washington Post that quoted his team saying he opposes the cuts.
Environmentalists want more.
“Governor Larry Hogan should immediately distance himself from the reckless climate policies of President Trump,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, in a statement. “It is imperative that Maryland join other states in rejecting Trump’s appalling vision of burning more and more coal and fracked gas in a warming world.”
His opponents have taken notice. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, a prospective Democratic challenger for the governor’s seat in next year’s election, went after Hogan’s passivity on the matter via Twitter today.
While Pres. Trump endangers our state, country, and planet, Governor Hogan has remained silent and repeatedly refused to take action.
— Kevin Kamenetz (@kevinkamenetz) June 7, 2017
Food and Water Watch Maryland, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, has organized the planned rally at Lawyers Mall outside the State House tomorrow. In addition to asking Hogan to protect funding for the bay program and join the Climate Alliance, protesters will also push for a greater commitment from Maryland to switch to renewable energy, according to a release.
Hogan and other officials gathered there inside the State House tomorrow are expected to sign a resolution calling on the Trump administration and Congress to protect funding for the bay, said Mitch Jones, senior policy advisor for Food and Water Watch Maryland. However, Hogan needs to do more than speak as part of a group, he said.
“We’re going to stand up forcefully and demand that he call out the Trump administration when they do things that are harmful to Maryland,” said Jones. “Maryland is, in many respects, uniquely vulnerable to a lot of what the Trump administration is doing because of the bay, because of the presence of so many federal employees in Maryland.”
State Sens. Paul Pinsky of Prince George’s County and Richard Madaleno of Montgomery County and Del. Eric Luedtke, also of Montgomery County, are scheduled to speak at the rally, along with leaders from Our Revolution Maryland, the Maryland NAACP and Food and Water Watch.
The protest is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. (moved up from 1 p.m.).
This story has been updated with comment from Gov. Larry Hogan’s office.